In what was technically a neutral site showdown Saturday afternoon, the Mississippi State men’s basketball team used a stunning and stifling defensive performance (and some really impressive rebounding skills) to grind out a 10-point win (in Newark, New Jersey) over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
Again, this Gotham Classic nonconference game was on a neutral court, but because of the location, the crowd was far from being impartial or equally biased for these two teams.
The Bulldogs did well to clamp down on defense throughout the game. At the half, Mississippi State and Rutgers happened to be locked in a 29-29 stalemate. But, MSU was able to get enough life on offense in the second half to pull away and get the win.
The heroics were, more or less, a full team effort for the Mississippi State Bulldogs, but there were several stars in this contest. Jimmy Bell Jr. and Cameron Matthews thrived in this matchup with Rutgers as they each recorded double-doubles to spearhead Mississippi State’s efforts in the frontcourt. Bell racked up 17 points and an astonishing 18 rebounds while Matthews recorded 18 points and 11 boards.
Their play truly set the tone and established the standard for this game.
Mississippi State basketball: Chris Jans’ Bulldogs get big win vs. Rutgers in Gotham Classic matchup
But Bell and Matthews weren’t alone in this contest. Dashawn Davis and Shakeel Moore helped provide a nice boost, combining to score an additional 23 points, 6 rebounds, and nine assists for the Bulldogs.
As a team, Mississippi State managed to limit the Scarlet Knights to a meager 37.1 percent shooting for the game and Rutgers was particularly awful from behind the arc as well. The Scarlet Knights hit 3-of-17 when it came to three point shooting.
And while I was admittedly concerned about the Bulldogs’ ability to snag rebounds because of the presence of Rutgers center Clifford Omoruyi, Mississippi State outrebounded Rutgers 47-26 and Omoruyi faced foul trouble throughout the game.
Rutgers really didn’t have an effective answer for the way the Bulldogs stifled the Scarlet Knights offense. The Bulldogs earned a tough 70-60 win over Rutgers and Chris Jans’ Mississippi State basketball team is now 10-2 on the season. Meanwhile, Rutgers is now 7-4. Jans and the Bulldogs head into a nice few days of break and Christmas joy all while riding a four-game winning streak.
Mississippi State wasn’t perfect in this contest, but the Bulldogs didn’t have to be. If they can keep playing at this high a level when SEC play gets started (and eventually when Tolu Smith returns), the Bulldogs will be a tough team to beat later on this season.